Sir Patrick Hume '“ the rebel escapes into a hiding place

Wilson's Tales of the Borders is an extraordinary collection of almost 500 stories celebrating our region's history, legends and people. First serialised in the Berwick Advertiser from the 1830s, it became a best-selling book series that stayed in print for over a century. The Wilson's Tales Project is re-telling the stories for a modern audience and serialising a selection for today's Berwick Advertiser readers.

Tuesday, 1st January 2019, 3:00 pm
Polwarth Kirk.

PREVIOUSLY: As a member of the Scottish Parliament, Sir Patrick Hume defies the demands of King Charles II. There’s a price on his head and troops are heading to search his house.

Where could he hide? With time running out, Patrick’s 12-year-old daughter Grizel flung her arms round his neck and whispered: “I know a place the King’s troopers and spies will never find: the family vault below Polwarth Kirk.

“The entrance is small and long grass and weeds hide it. Nobody would think of looking for you there.”

Patrick was in the cold, dark tomb within an hour, alone on a rudimentary bed. The night passed slowly. At times he heard curses and the trampling of hooves in the churchyard as troopers searched.

Kneeling on the cold, damp floor, surrounded by the bones of his forefathers, he prayed silently for God to protect his family and save his country. Then he slept.

Daylight came only dimly through the small, hidden entrance – just enough to show the horrors of where he was hiding. Darkness fell again.

Another day passed and his food was almost gone when at midnight he heard a rustle at the entrance and the piece of old gravestone covering it moved.

He heard a whisper: “Father! Father! It’s me, your own Grizel.”

Sitting on the bed, she gave him details of the search made by the troopers and how everyone in Redbraes was watched, including what they did with food.

“But I managed to get some out of the house without them knowing,” she said. “While I’ve got food my father won’t go hungry.

“Here’s a flask of wine, cakes and a sheep’s head that was put on a plate for me at dinnertime. When the servant was out of the room I whipped it into my apron so when little Sandy turned round to ask for a piece it was gone. He couldn’t believe it.

“He turned to Mother and said: ‘Ah, Mother, our Grizzy has swallowed a sheep’s head in an instant, bones and all’.”

She laughed. “I’m sure he’ll never forget it. I managed to slip out to hide the head in my room, then tonight I crept out the window.

“The troopers aren’t about the house now, and I’ll come every night.”

Patrick laughed at her ingenuity and bravery as he cuddled her.

As he stayed in the cheerless vault for weeks, his only companion a copy of Buchanan’s Psalms, her cheerful company for an hour or two each day was his only relief.

NEXT WEEK: Hard times, but the future’s Orange.

Retold by Fordyce Maxwell and adapted by Joe Lang. Read the unabridged story and historic background in Volume 4 of the Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition, priced £8.50, on sale at Berwick booksellers or online at